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Dr Russ Blog - Cell Phones - Safe to Use?
Cell Phones - Safe to Use?
Created on 3/15/2011

It seems like everyone has a cell phone these days, but questions about the safety of cell phone use have dogged us for years. Some data suggest an increased incidence of brain tumors with regular cell phone use, while other research has found no such association.

We still don't have a definitive answer.

But now we have new information that is at least somewhat helpful - a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last month (JAMA 2011;305:808-814) looked at the effect of acute, prolonged cell phone use and brain activity.

They found that when healthy people were exposed to an activated cell phone placed by their ear for 50 minutes' time there was a  regional increase in metabolism, specifically occurring near the area of the phone's antenna.

What does an increase in local brain metabolism as a result of cell phone use mean in terms of health?

We don't know.

All we know is that the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) generated by cell phones, while relatively weak, are strong enough to create changes in the brain. Some experts suggest they may be strong enough to impact the flow of information along nerves, but that is not known for certain.

So what to do with this new information?

First, don't freak out.

We don't know that an increase in local brain metabolism means anything more than an increase in local brain metabolism - in other words, and as the authors state right in the paper, their findings are of unknown clinical relevance.

Maybe the increased local brain metabolism is a good thing, though this seems unlikely. Maybe it is dangerous, and we simply have to wait for more research investigating cell phone EMFs.

Regardless, when head sets are plentiful and relatively inexpensive it seems a good idea to use them - always.

Keep your head set plugged in to your phone so you're not tempted to just pick up the phone and start talking. And keep the body of the cell phone away from you, if possible. Put it on the chair or table beside you, for example. This way you both keep your hands free and lessen the potential for effects from EMFs, whatever they may be.

Oh, yeah - and don't use your cell phones while driving (especially, please - don't text).

Be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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